Smarter trucks, smarter trailers through telematics

The increasing sophistication of telematics technology and its role in reducing fleet management costs have led to it slowly becoming standard equipment in new trucks and trailers in Europe.

What is telematics?

Truck or vehicle telematics “is based on the idea of gathering, storing, and transmitting information about the vehicle for tracking purposes. This information can be used to analyse vehicle performance, vehicle conditions, driver performance, and more.” [source: Carmafleet]

This data is relayed from sensors on key mechanical components on trucks and trailers back to drivers and fleet managers at base using satellite/GPS technology.

The fleet manager can take advantage of telematics for his or her fleet in various ways including:

  • Obtaining information about mechanical parts and deciding when to maintain or repair them to avoid unexpected downtime. For example, trucks and trailers fitted with Tire Pressure Monitor Systems will alert the fleet manager to the need for increasing tyre pressures to ensure maximum fuel economy and safety. Thanks to telematics, fleet managers can detect a decrease in reefer temperature remotely and take action to minimise any damage to the food being transported.

Some of the more recent telematics systems will provide fleet managers with real-time predictive maintenance information enabling them to replace components at the optimum time before they fully wear out.

  • Finding the best routes for delivery that will reduce the journey time and be the most fuel efficient.
  • Reducing the cost of truck and trailer ownership in various areas including maintenance and repair, fuel and tyre consumption.
  • Monitoring dangerous driving habits and implementing measures such as additional driver training to increase safety.
  • Tracking the locations of drivers, trailers and their contents including the weight to mitigate against cargo theft.
  • Recognising when trailers are lying idle, to improve trailer allocation, loading turnaround times and scheduling and, in some instances, to use as evidence to eliminate under-used trailers.
  • Linking the information to fleet management systems to generate management reports, help with driver and trailer allocation and scheduling and, in some cases, to connect with online freight exchange platforms.

In future, telematics will also form an important part of the connectivity required for platooning.


Increasing adoption

In February 2018, Techavio market research analysts predicted that the commercial vehicle telematics market in Europe will grow at a compound annual growth rate of close to 14% from 2018 to 2022. In 2017, the Large Commercial Vehicle segment accounted for 83% of sales in the European market. [source: Technavio]


Telematics and truck manufacturers

The Big Seven European Truck manufacturers are recognising the significance of telematics technology for their customers and are starting to provide it either as standard integrated equipment in new trucks or at least as an option. Many telematics solutions can be retrofitted to older models and/or integrated with the telematics solutions of other vendors.

For more information on their telematics and fleet management systems, please click on the truck manufacturer’s name: DAF, Iveco, MAN through RIO developed by their parent company Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz,  RenaultScania, and Volvo.


Telematics and trailers

Anecdotally, there appears to be an increase in adoption of telematics for trailers. Dennis Skaradzinski, chief engineer at Great Dane Trailers told in March 2018 that “Up to this point, trailers have been pretty dumb… Today, trailers are becoming smart.”

“Telematics platforms provide valuable information on trailers’ past and upcoming maintenance and stops throughout the day, help verify deliveries, and can even measure the temperature in refrigerated trailers,” said Jenny Shiner, marketing communications manager at GPS Insight [source: Fleet Equipment Magazine]

Managing trailer security risks is an important consideration. Many drivers carry high-value cargo. One option is to install a Truck ID which identifies remotely that the right truck is towing the right trailer. Another option is to install locks and sensors that trigger alarms remotely when trailer doors are opened or goods are moved unexpectedly.

With some solutions, you can pre-programme your trailer doors so that they can only be opened in pre-defined locations at pre-defined times. If your trailer travels in an unscheduled way, an alert is sent to the base. Combined with the constant tracking information that you receive about a trailer’s location, you can then take appropriate action and, if necessary, contact local law enforcement agencies to help recover it.


TIP and telematics

TIP Trailer Services is celebrating its 50thanniversary in the trailer services business. It can help you install and operate telematics solutions for trailers and trucks from a range of manufacturers.

To resolve all maintenance and repair issues that your telematics solutions identify, TIP is on-hand to provide you with trailer maintenance and repair services on a “Pay as You Go,” “Preventative” and “Predictive” basis. We have a network of over 70 workshops across 16 countries providing round the clock support, 365 days per year.

For more information on how TIP can assist you, please contact TIP Trailer Services using this form.